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Authorities question hospital staff over Pailin mother's death

Authorities question hospital staff over Pailin mother's death

PAILIN police have questioned four obstetricians at the province's public hospital in connection with the death of a pregnant woman Sunday night, according to local human rights group Adhoc, which is assisting the woman's husband.

Vorn Yoeub, 37, died on Sunday night due to complications in labour, reportedly after obstetrics staff refused treatment unless her husband paid US$25 in fees. Her death prompted provincial Governor Y Chhien to order an investigation. The hospital has denied the allegations of negligence.

Adhoc coordinator Chhoun Makara said the provincial prosecutor in neighbouring Battambang province, which hears court cases for both provinces, instructed police in Pailin to interview hospital staff.

"I cannot assess what the result will be because the case is currently in the hands of the court prosecutor," he said.

"The victim's husband is not yet sure whether he will complain to the court - he simply asked us to help him find the reason why [hospital staff] refused to treat his wife."

Chhoun Makara said there were concerns that doctors and obstetricians at the hospital were more concerned about getting

paid the health service fee than taking care of patients.

"I don't know if that's because they receive low salaries, but we need the Ministry of Health to examine this problem," he said.

"And if the court doesn't seriously investigate and find out why treatment wasn't free, then it will be a waste of time."

Charges denied

The hospital's head of obstetrics, Luy Chantha, confirmed that the police had questioned her and three staff, and said she would rely on the hospital director to assist them in the event of a trial.

"They said we must tell the truth, but I don't know what to tell them. We didn't ask the couple for money and we gave them our best attention," she said.

"We didn't act in the way the husband said and we always help people, especially the poor. So I don't know how to answer this."

Battambang court prosecutor Koy Chanya said that he was still waiting on the police report and would make a decision once he received it.

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